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Rovers' Bradley concerned for LOI clubs

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Bradley

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley says financial support will be needed to help League of Ireland clubs survive during the national shutdown on football in Ireland due to the Covid-19 crisis.

And a joint FAI and Government appeal to UEFA for up to €1million in emergency funding to assist the league will be made next week.

The FAI announced on Thursday evening that "all football activity" would cease until March 29th.

Three full series of games in the Premier and First Divisions are off, along with matches in the national under-age leagues, and the Women's National League, due to start tomorrow.

Schoolboy soccer and amateur football at all levels have also been shelved, at least until March 29th, though there is of course a possibility that the crisis could extend further.

The financial strain for senior clubs is a real worry.

Some have the financial resources to survive but many other clubs will face financial hardship due to the lack of gate receipts and other match-day revenue. An official from Finn Harps admitted earlier this week that the Donegal club "could fold" without financial assistance.

Clubs are contractually obliged to continue paying their professional players during this period. But they are unable to agree on whether the "football activity" ban includes training during the shutdown.

Managers of the Premier Division clubs were surveyed yesterday for their input, and most supported a complete ban on organised training but at least one club was keen for training to continue.

A six-person steering group, made up of representatives from the FAI, the clubs and the PFAI, will meet again today to get a final decision on that.

Rovers boss Bradley said his club had a contingency plan which could see players train in their homes or back gardens as gyms will be closed.

"Financially it's going to hurt clubs and, in turn, hurt players. We need to be very careful with every club in the country," Bradley said.

"Us and Dundalk could probably sustain it for a month or so. But it's not about us, it's about the league as a whole and we've got to protect everyone. Finn Harps and Sligo are as important as Rovers or Dundalk.

"The governing bodies need to keep these clubs afloat, in terms of players wages, staff wages, and when the gate receipts come in again they can be reimbursed."